The Johnson City Food Truck Junction is in full swing as I approach the line of trucks parked outside of the Johnson City Mall. The beginning chords of a gospel song echoes from the nearby stage, but the symphony of smells hitting my nose is what I’m really here for. The unmistakably smoky smell of a brick oven stands out above the other scents, wafting over from the shining silver food truck labeled Opie’s Pizza Wagon. I make my way over and meet the man behind the wagon, local entrepreneur and owner of Opie’s Pizza Wagon, Chad Blackburn.
Blackburn has worked at his family owned garage, Mr. B’s, for most of his life. His family also owned the Opie’s Pizza shop next door to the garage, which Blackburn also inherited and ran. After hearing a friend mention a project he was working on involving putting a brick oven into the bed of an old truck, Blackburn decided he needed one for himself and had one made. Since then, Blackburn has traveled Johnson City with the Pizza Wagon whenever he can find time apart from his work at Mr. B’s Automotive.
“The Pizza Wagon is really a fun way for us to get out into the community, meet some interesting people, help out with mission trips and make ends meet,” Blackburn says.
Opie’s isn’t just confined to Johnson City, either. They’ve embarked on a number of trips with the Get Real Missions group, a non-profit organization supported by Blackburn’s home church, New Victory Baptist Church.
“We’ve taken the truck with us on some of our ‘Get Real’ missions with our church,” Blackburn says. “We’ve gone all over, to Kentucky and to Georgia.”
I couldn’t stand next to that brick oven without trying at least one pizza, so I order a medium “bee’s knees” pizza, an olive oil based pie with grilled chicken and roasted garlic, all drizzled in honey. It is done in less than three minutes, and the delicious smell begins turning heads throughout the Food Truck Junction. The pizza is cooked to perfection, and, though the portions are plenty for two people, I finish the last bite wanting more. The small pizza cost $12, a respectable price for feeding two people, but the taste was the star more-so than the price.
Opie’s Pizza Wagon isn’t open every day, but they post their weekly schedule at the start of each week on their Facebook and Instagram pages. It may take some work to track down this shining silver truck, but the decent price and exceptional taste make Opie’s Pizza Wagon a must-have food truck experience.